Instrument fails on asteroid orbiter
(CNN) -- Mission scientists this week turned off an instrument on the NEAR asteroid orbiter after it experienced unexplained power surges.
| GALLERY |
| MESSAGE BOARD|
The infrared spectrometer aboard the NEAR-Shoemaker, used to measure the mineral composition of asteroid Eros, drew
excessive electrical current from the spacecraft's power
supply in May and stopped sending data, mission scientists
Engineers shut it down but turned it back on briefly on June
5 to test it. The glitch remained and engineers decided to
keep it turned off until they could examine the problem further.
The other five instruments on the NEAR-Shoemaker are
operating well, said a researcher with the Johns Hopkins
Applied Physics Research lab, which manages the Near Earth
Asteroid Rendezvous mission for NASA.
Before the shutdown, the spectrometer had gathered infrared
readings from more than 60 percent of the asteroid Eros, NEAR
mission scientists said.
The robot ship began a yearlong orbit around the unusually
shaped space rock on February 14. NEAR is now about 85
million miles (136 million km) from Earth, orbiting Eros at a
distance of 31 miles (50 km).
Asteroid Eros resembles 'building blocks' of Earth
May 31, 2000
NASA unveils quartet of asteroid movies
April 28, 2000
Spacecraft moves within 62 miles of asteroid
April 14, 2000
NEAR spacecraft dips closer to asteroid
April 3, 2000
Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Mission
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
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